Beds of municipal compost and leaf mould


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This topic contains 17 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  charles 2 months ago.

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  • #35029

    Evan
    Participant

    Hello Charles and folks!

    Where I live in North Carolina the town offers free leaf much year-round and I have purchased a cubic yard (as much as a friend’s truck could carry) of county compost for $30. Do you think a few beds of this and leaf mulch on top would make a sufficient growing medium for my first season? My personal compost is rotting away atm hopefully for use next fall or late summer.

    #35032

    charles
    Moderator

    Hello Even, that is a great offer of free leaves, and reasonably priced compost.
    It depends how ‘finished’ the compost is, not hot and not too much wood visible in there. But it should serve for growing veg.
    As for the leaves, here in the UK I would leave in a pile to rot for at least a year, before using as a mulch, otherwise leaves can harbour slugs and make it difficult to sow small seeds.
    However you may be drier than us and if slugs are not a problem, you could for example spread leaves around established plants.

    #35133

    Evan
    Participant

    Thanks for the reply, Charles! The leaves are composted year-round by the city, not quite for an entire year, but at least stacked high enough to reach a central temp of around 120F (50C), so it may serve the same purpose. How would you use your own leaves, after piling them?

    #35134

    charles
    Moderator

    Evan, that is good that they compost them, though even after one year I wonder how ‘finished’ the compost is. Nonetheless it should be good on the surface, say two inch layer, anywhere you are putting in plants rather than sowing direct.
    I should love to have access to such a resource, but there are not many trees around here. There are wood chips from tree surgeons, which take longer to break down.
    Do keep us informed about your progress.

    #35159

    bobandcogs
    Participant

    …… interestingly, here in Lincoln (UK), the City Council used to have its contractors deposit the autumn leaf sweepings in the parking area of our allotment site for gardeners to take away and use – but then (about three seasons ago), the DfEE issued advice that councils should desist the practice because of the potential for toxins (oils etc) in road sweepings. We’d hoped they’d continue to let us have the park sweepings – but no: sadly. Although the contractors continue to drop off huge piles of tree chippings … which never seem to last long!

    My personal experience is that the chippings become woodlouse heaven ……. and those little beasties are always happy to exploit a wee bit of slug damage to a plant – which leaves me uncertain of the merit of the chippings as paths around beds.

    #35164

    charles
    Moderator

    I agree that wood chips want using with care, partly depending what you are growing. For example woodlice love spinach leaves and stems and can certainly rival slugs as a pest menace.
    A shame about that decision on town leaves!.

    #35555

    Evan
    Participant

    An update:

    The leaf compost turned out to be an even better product than I expected, although there were plenty of woody bits and leaf stems visible, which I was able to pick out somewhat.

    I used this for the bottom layer, added a small amount of bagged manure compost, then the municipal compost on top. Hopefully I can get some fall sowings in! Still very warm here in NC.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by  Evan.
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    #35558

    Evan
    Participant

    Here’s a look at the beds as I have them

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    #35560

    charles
    Moderator

    Evan your beds look good.
    Some weeds may grow through, I don’t know how vigorous the grass is in NC, so watch for that.
    I would sow and plant into those beds as soon as you have seeds and plants, and according to what works in your climate.

    #35562

    Brian
    Participant

    Hi Charles
    I have just taken over an allotment that has a large heap of pidgeon manure
    it is 3/4 year old and well rotted, would it be safe to put on beds as a top layer
    or better to mix it with other composts

    #35563

    charles
    Moderator

    That sounds a good resource, I wonder if it is pure pigeon droppings of mixed with some bedding, or anything else?
    I would either use it as an addition and stimulator in other compost heaps, or spread it thinly around growing crops (leeks, brassicas) rather than using it as a mulch to spread in autumn. I think that some of its nutrients may still be water-soluble.

    #35567

    Brian
    Participant

    it has been mixed with the bedding – will take a couple inch,s of the beds and thin out what is left ,
    many thanks
    Brian

    #35568

    Evan
    Participant

    Thanks Charles! You’ve been a great inspiration and I hope to restore life to my good but mistreated soil!

    #38444

    Evan
    Participant

    Some progress after six months no dig! Broad beans and garlic coming along nicely awaiting a more reliable spring! A little bit of couch grass starting to poke thru again as well…

    #38448

    Evan
    Participant

    Here’s a photo which I meant to upload before

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by  Evan.
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